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Combating The Holiday Blues: Tips to Make Your Season Jollier

The holiday blues could be a sub-genre of music all on its own.

With cold gloomy weather, less daylight, often mounting debt, missing loved ones, regrets from another year passing, low motivation levels, and many other factors, the holiday season can do a number on a person’s mental health through seasonal sadness, stress, anxiety, and loneliness.

The stress and anxiety of the holidays, especially during the months of November and December, can manifest in symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, fatigue, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, low job satisfaction and morale, aching muscles (including lower back pain), loss of appetite, changes in behavior while at work, and a decline in productivity and work performance.

Reducing stress and anxiety during the holidays can seem like a tough task especially while feeling like you’re already being pulled in countless directions but it is possible. Here are some tips on how you can combat the holiday blues.

Are the holiday blues a real thing?

Yes. It is called a seasonal depressive episode and is most common during the fall/winter months. In fact, young adults are 3x more likely to experience winter blues when they are adolescents. Older adults also frequently report it because both populations are more likely to experience less interaction with their social peers during this time. We also find more people reporting holiday blues in higher latitude areas because they have less sunlight than we do.

How do we know if we are experiencing holiday blues?

Holiday blues or a seasonal depressive episode presents with a significant drop in energy, hypersomnia (increased sleep), overeating, weight gain, cravings for carbohydrates.

What can we do to combat the blues when everyone around us seems so happy?

There are different paths available with the same goal in mind as it depends on each person’s situation. For example, if your holiday blues began with a grieving event, then addressing the loss is the best route. If holidays are a stressful time for you because of family drama, it may be helpful to learn effective communication skills and boundaries so that family events are less stressful. However, if we’re talking about something more closely to a seasonal depressive episode, then working with a therapist to address your belief system and identifying effective coping styles are important tools to help combat those holiday blues.

How do we know that we’re not experiencing something worse, like depression?

That is a bit more challenging of a question since our current research places seasonal depressive symptoms as a special feature of Major Depression. A general rule of thumb is to take notice when you start to feel blue or if you have a pattern in which you notice that the experiences we discussed earlier lessen or releases when spring comes around then you’re not likely to be experiencing Major Depressive Disorder. It is worth getting a professional opinion. Click here to read more about depression and take a quiz to see if you may have symptoms.

When should we consider professional help? And who should we go to?

It would be very important to speak with the medical doctor that knows you best when some important differences show up for you like your mood doesn’t lessen when Spring begins, you find yourself preferring to isolate, you are thinking negatively or less hopeful, and/or you feel sad or blue consistently. However, if you find you have less and less interest in participating in activities you used to enjoy, please contact your physician as soon as possible. This would be a sign that medication and counseling are needed quickly.

Is there anything special offer that Maison Vie is offering right now?

Yes. We are currently offering a FREE 90-minute session until the end of this year for families of our first responders, healthcare workers, and essential workers. We hope to assist family members by providing structured support so that they can openly address their unique difficulties associated with adjusting to our community’s recovery during the pandemic. The therapist will guide the family from establishing their unique family goal to action steps that the family can start immediately. All families are asked to do is call us and schedule that free appointment. Click here to read more.